Who’s In Your Corner?


November, 2016


Autism is a fight. It’s a lifetime of twelve rounds on repeat. With each set of rounds, a different opponent emerges. You’re gonna get knocked down, you’re gonna get bruised, and you’re gonna want to throw in the towel. Battling alone, failure is almost certain. This is why it’s essential to have a strong team in your corner.

My son Brian is ten, and I can honestly say since he was first diagnosed at two, we haven’t let down our guard. Tiffany, my wife and I, along with Brian have experienced a barrage of difficulties during our journey. From finical difficulties to school issues, to behavioral and aggression challenges we’ve faced them all. But we keep our fists up, protecting the face, never knowing where or when the next jab will be launched in our direction because we have to.

Brian is scrappy, and every challenge that’s thrown at him is a battle. He is on the lower side of the spectrum and is non-verbal. Only now is he learning to communicate with the help of the app Proloquo2go and intense ABA. No one knows what the future holds for my son, but we’ll be prepared. I fervently believe Brian will have better than a “puncher’s chance” at life because of this preparation. His battle will be long and sometimes grueling, but my Tiffany and I have faith it will be rewarding as well.

While the brunt of his training and preparation will rest on the shoulders of my wife and I, like all fighters, Brian will need a team. That is why who’s in your corner at go-time is so important. Some of the faces in your corner are easy to recognize: ABA therapist, pediatrician/doctor, occupational and speech therapists, teachers. This is just the foundation though, to win you’ll need more.

Benjamin Duff

Benjamin Duff

Web Development Manager, AAoM

Ben is currently the Web Development Manager for Autism Alliance of Michigan and has been with AAoM since 2012. Outside of his work with AAoM, Ben and his wife, Tiffany founded Corner Pieces, a charity dedicated to aiding children with developmental disabilities in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When not trying to keep up with Brian, Ben can be found working at a variety of hobbies, like podcasting, comic and movie reviews and design.

The Duff’s reside in Sault Sainte Marie, MI.

Who is going to motivate you when you’ve been knocked down? Who says “you have this” when doubt creeps in. Who can step in and care for your child if you can’t?

Are these roles owned by family, friends, maybe a church or spiritual leader? For us, family is everything and fills most of these roles. Both my wife’s family and mine live five hours from us. The distance is great but we make it a point to see both sides every visit. Also, thanks to modern technology, we can Skype or Facetime in the interim. He also has fantastic aunts and uncles and cousins who make sure he’s always included. Brian has also been blessed with friends near and far (Bangladesh & Thailand!) that send prayers and support constantly. He truly is very lucky.

Your corner, on the other hand, might be filled with more professionals, a pastor, that friend from college or perhaps an AAoM Navigator. Every team will be different, just as every child is different. I challenge you to find at least one person though, that x-factor if you will, who will keep you motivated no matter what.

If you’re having trouble finding that person get creative. Maybe it’s a song or a poem that you go to when hope dims. Perhaps a reaffirming podcast or book. Maybe it’s a support group. Whatever it is, use it.

Autism is a fight. Sometimes it’s a bar room brawl with punches, biting, hair pulling–it can get nasty. But that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel. No, it means we regroup with our team; we train harder; we focus more intensely and go out and win the next round. Alone, an already difficult situation is even harder; with a team it’s an even fight; with a strong team in your corner, you can win.

So who’s in your corner?

If you are looking for someone to help with the fight, consider contacting AAoM’s Navigator Team. You will be assigned a totally free case manager who will hold your hand from Day 1. Whether you need advice on therapies, help with an IEP meeting or just someone to vent to after a rough day, AAoM’s Navigator team will be there for you. Contact 877-463-AAOM or [email protected] for more information.

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